Religious & Ethnic Minority Persecution in Bangladesh
Since October 10, 1946, the Islamic ultra-nationalists, their fundamentalist & extremist allies have waged a low-intensity campaign of religious & and ethnic minority persecution in the geographical area that has been known as Bangladesh as of 1971, when the country emerged as a secular democratic nation, by seceding from the Islamic State of Pakistan. Since Bangladesh was born as a secular democratic nation through a genocide in which nearly three million innocent, unarmed Bengalis were killed, 200,000 women raped, and nearly ten million people forced to leave the country in the face of atrocities, it was naturally expected that the minorities of the country would now enjoy equal rights and live there with human dignity, and safety of their life and property, as it was guaranteed in the country’s original constitution(1972). Unfortunately, the situation remains unchanged; by conducting a systematic campaign blatant discrimination, persecution, and savagery tens of millions of Hindus, Buddhists & Christians – – 37 to 49 million depending on when one starts counting from — to leave the country and seek refuge in India and elsewhere.
While this vicious campaign has been directly conducted primarily by the Islamists, it has often been directly or indirectly aided by the governments, regardless of which party/parties may have been in power, the Islamic nationalists, the coalition of Islamic nationalists & extremist, military dictators, or the so-called “secular democratic party/parties.”
The tools of persecution have included daily harassment by using slurs, blatant discrimination in the job sectors, vandalism, desecration of places of worship, land grabbing and forcible eviction by using an anti-minority law called the Enemy Property Act (later renamed Vested Property Act), eviction by force, arson, brutal torture, rape, gang rape & mass rape, and targeted grisly murders. More recently, the Islamists have started hacking into minority member’s Facebook and then post blasphemous statuses against prophet Muhammad and then using that as a ploy wage brutal attacks on the minority villages (In such an attack that happened in Ramu, Chittagong in 2012, more than 25,0000 Islamists participated). No government has ever prosecuted a minority persecutor which acts as a license for ridding the country of its non-Muslim population through violence. On the contrary victims are being incarcerated.
The current secularist Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina who claims to believe in secular democracy has reaffirmed Islam as the state religion by using her brute majority in the parliament. She has always promoted Salafi/Wahabi Islam in the country, and to that end currently building 560 mega mosques with Saudi funding. For years she has been dictated by the Islamic fundamentalists, particularly by Hefazat-E- Islam, at whose directive her government has removed many non-Muslim writers from textbooks, allowed the 5th grade Islamic Studies textbook to have such statements as non-Muslims are inferior to Muslims; and, what is even more reprehensible is that she has tolerated ( and thus encouraged) the clerics to preach to the millions of common Muslims that non-Muslims are like human excreta, inferior to animals, in other words, an expendable commodity.
Unless the community of civilized nations intervene to reverse the course that Bangladesh has taken the Islamists will eliminate the country’s non-Muslim or minority population (Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians including the indigenous peoples) through violence. As a matter of fact, based on a statistical analysis of the past and present rate of minority exodus under duress, Economist & Professor Abul Barakat has predicted that no minorities will be left in Bangladesh after thirty years (Dhaka Tribune, Nov. 21, 2016). As can be understood, this vicious campaign is driven by the Islamists & Islamic ultranationalists’ declared goal of transforming Bangladesh into a monolithic Islamic state. In fact, their goal is to expand such a Bangladesh to include Arakan of Burma and parts of India (“Deadly Cargo,” in Time Magazine, Oct 14, 2002), the country will become a monolithic Islamic state) and start exporting jihadists beyond Bangladesh’s borders, as it did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It may be recalled that Bangladeshi jihadists fought alongside Bin Laden’s Al Qaida in Afghanistan (see e.g. American Taliban John Walker Lind’s interview with CNN News, Dec. 20, 2001), around which time the religious & ethnic minorities of Bangladesh were “Safe only in the departure lounge.” (The Economist, Nov. 29 -Dec. 5, 2003). Fundamentally, the situation remains unchanged.
Our goal is to gather information about the plight of the religious & ethnic minorities of Bangladesh obtain recommendations from the panellists as to what measures are needed to be taken immediately by the government to stop violence against Bangladesh’s religious & ethnic minorities, and then disseminate them among those who have the will, ability, and power to plead with the Bangladesh government to stop this vicious campaign.